Would you move to a regional city for PE?

Would you move to a regional city like Houston, Dallas or Atlanta for a good PE opportunity? Particularly if you wanted to be in one of the top tier coastal cities (NY / LA).

Just as an example, if you've been struggling to land a gig at a solid PE shop in NYC / LA but then you land something at Roark Capital in Atlanta.

I'm basically in this situation. I'm 26-27, and spent the last few years in a city I like (but don't love) in the name of career progression. Think a city like chi-town. Now, I'm about to do the same thing in a Dallas / Houston / Atlanta type city despite the desire to be in NYC / LA. 

I feel like the jump to PE is hard (especially as an associate), and it's more important that I get it over with than wait for the perfect Opp in NYC.

Also please don't mention the pros and cons of Roark - that's not the company in question. It's more like a regional office of a multi billion dollar manager

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Comments (21)

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
May 26, 2021 - 2:36pm

Seems fine so long as you can speak to your ties to NYC or LA. Feel like any personal connections to those cities would cure a lot of curiosity from headhunters and therefore firms. Even if none, just really emphasize at every step of the process "this is where I want to be", yadda yadda

May 26, 2021 - 8:26pm

I would do it but with the mindset that I'm out after 1.5-2 years. Even that's a lot of time in your 20s to spend in a city that you don't want to be in, let alone 3-4+ years. I understand taking a gig like this from a professional standpoint, and you're right in that it's a lot easier to lateral once you are in PE. But I can't think of a role that would be worth spending 3-4+ years of my life in a city where I have few friends and minimal desire to live there.

May 26, 2021 - 8:35pm

I don't understand why you DON'T want to live in a lower cost of living city like Atlanta Dallas etc. You're not going to be spending time out in the city anyways if you're in PE, maybe you get like 5 hours of free time out in the city max per week. And you get taxed less, take home a substantially higher paycheck adjusted for COL, and can live in a pretty baller place for cheap. NYC is understandable and hands down the best place to be for your career but I cannot for the life of me understand what attracts people to LA. Even if the COL was identical in LA and Dallas, I would pick Dallas every day of the week. 

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
May 26, 2021 - 8:37pm

I care more about living life to the fullest than maximizing my cash comp in my 20s. In major cities, there's more people to meet, exotic foods to eat, more beautiful women to date, more nature (for LA), better nightlife (for NYC), etc.

The job in question isn't going to be an absolute sweatshop I don't believe

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
May 28, 2021 - 5:47pm

people to meet, exotic foods to eat, more beautiful women to date, more nature

Other than nature, how does Dallas lack any of these? Even if it's not to the degree of NY due to population, Dallas is still a city that has all that stuff. Not like it's some rural farm town. Doing 2 years where COL might very well be half of NY + not freezing your balls off 5 months out of the year sounds pretty good to me

  • Investment Analyst in PE - Growth
May 27, 2021 - 12:26pm

^This 100%. NYC/LA are great and fun places to visit/live but people often act like Atlanta, Dallas, CHI are third world countries. Night life still exists in these cities as well. I went to undergrad in Chicago before working briefly in NY and found it to be a great place for young people (college and post grad). Thought it was a smaller but cleaner NY with still tons to do. Yes, crime in Chicago is bad and it's debatable if Lightfoot knows what the hell she is doing as mayor, but if you live in the River North, Gold Coast, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park areas as you'll easily be able to afford it in finance and it's as safe as living in good parts of any major city. You really don't realize how small the buyside, and specifically PE/VC are until you try to break in or are in the industry. Opportunities are few and far between these days with everyone trying to get a seat so I'd consider giving so called "2nd tier" cities at least a look. While there are plenty that are doing well in those places, many of the other funds or people I hear about that are killing it in PE or growth equity are outside of NY and LA

May 27, 2021 - 7:14pm

You can't understand why people would want to live in a major city, diverse food options, close to the beach and mountains, with a pleasant climate year round?

I'm in Dallas and supportive of it as a solid option for quality of life (though career progression and optionality still probably lag NYC), but even though LA's not for me it's very easy to see the appeal, especially if you dropped taxes and COL

May 27, 2021 - 7:42pm

Dallas is a major city with diverse food options and imo has a pleasant climate (I'll take hot and humid over cold and freezing every day of the week). Yes you are close to the beach and mountains, but are you really going to go surfing every day or go to Mt Baldy every week? For people working less hours a week, LA is appealing, but it's also expensive. I think if you're working a lot, it makes sense to live somewhere like Dallas where you maximize your comp adjusted for COL, and if you're not working a lot, it makes sense to live in LA or NYC and enjoy what they have to offer but it's a paradox because while you're getting paid enough to enjoy the city, you're not getting enough time to. So NYC (best career) or Dallas (best COL adjusted comp) are your best bets. 

I am personally very biased against LA and think that LA is very shitty for what you pay to live there and the most overrated city on the planet so take my opinion on LA with a grain of salt but I'm sure it's a very appealing place for a lot of people. 

May 26, 2021 - 8:55pm

I moved to a city I had no interest in and no connections to for my job. it worked out for me, got into a good MBA and now have flexibility to move to NYC after graduation, but it is hard. I would make sure you have an exit plan.

The reality is if you want to be in top tier business roles, sometimes you may have to prioritize that over your lifestyle desires. I'm sure it would be possible for you to move to NYC and get a random job, but obviously you wouldn't want to do that.

May 26, 2021 - 10:02pm

I'd be pretty happy if I got HIG in Miami, MDP/GTCR in Chicago, or Vista in Austin (definitely prefer the other 3 though). Wouldn't consider anywhere else outside of NY. Spending 2 years in NY is nice. Wouldn't mind moving on or staying, but if I moved on I'd really prefer Miami or Chicago, and I'd give Austin a shot. I really dislike Atlanta - would never live there. I've never been to Dallas or Houston and don't know what it's like. I think I'd like it. I like the no state tax and gun rights, but I'd have to give it a a long weekend at the very least to consider.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
May 26, 2021 - 10:24pm

I would be weary of taking a career track position in a city you don't want to be in. For a two-year IB analyst/PE associate stint, it can definitely be worth it. 

May 27, 2021 - 2:33pm

Not OP, but in my view it doesn't matter too much. You won't have an opportunity at that firm again but that's about it. People jump between roles in PE all the time, especially at the associate / VP level. I wouldn't sweat it too much.

Most Helpful
May 27, 2021 - 1:30am

Short answer: yes do it.

Making the jump to PE is the biggest barrier, then moving between firms/cities once you are in is relatively easy (although you will want to do it soon, as it gets harder as you move up). I'd say a PE associate in Houston has a better chance at landing a PE gig in NYC than a NY GS banker, all else being equal. 

At the end of the day, you have to decide what is more important: Being in PE or being in NYC/LA. If its the latter, then go find an IB role (should be easy with your current experience), but I believe you are asking because being in PE means more, so you've answered your own question in that sense.

May 27, 2021 - 7:04pm

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